Throughout December, the variety of holidays celebrated by people from different backgrounds makes it feel like an entire season of giving, of helping others. So it seems appropriate that this month we reflect on the spirit of generous service to others that runs through the O&P profession—ask around at any industry event and you’ll likely hear that the desire to help people was the impetus for a clinician to choose O&P. As articles in this issue demonstrate though, the way in which this impulse to give plays out is as complicated as it is admirable.
In “Philanthropy in O&P,” we hear from practices about how they work to aid clients who may lack adequate insurance or financial resources to obtain the O&P devices they need for their mobility goals. Key to this relationship is a positive attitude and genuine commitment from patients to put in the work necessary to be successful in their rehabilitation. Of course, support from manufacturers and nonprofits plays a role in helping to make these philanthropic activities financially feasible. But it’s not just material devices that comprise this generosity, it’s also spending time listening to patients, celebrating their milestones, and sometimes being available after hours to provide advice to assist them in achieving their goals.
But in giving of ourselves, we may sacrifice our own physical and emotional wellness to the extent that it hurts our ability to continue to help others. “Pathological Altruism: Balancing Patient and Personal Priorities” explores the tension that can come with the drive to serve others unselfishly. Generous practitioners may also find that an even more complex layer of self-sacrifice exists in which there is potential harm in enabling dysfunctional patient behaviors such as noncompliance, failure to schedule appointments for nonurgent matters, or chronic lateness if they repeatedly make accommodations for these patients at the expense of their own needs.
We wrap up the features in this issue with “O&P Policy Developments Accelerate,” an update on the O&P policy initiatives that have taken shape in the past few months. The continued advocacy for patients and the profession that impacts these policies is an ongoing demonstration of another aspect of the profession’s spirit of giving, as countless people give of their time and talents toward these efforts.
Finally, as the year draws to a close, I’d like to thank you all for joining us throughout the year and wish you happy holidays.